Our Trip to Japan

Sometimes I scroll through the older images on my phone to remember what life used to be like before Covid and I suddenly remember that back in January (what feels like a lifetime ago) we took an epic trip to Japan.

The trip was both the result of a spontaneous impulse (“What if we go to Japan after Christmas?” Craig asked one day, last September) and then months of planning and replanning. Planning, because I researched all of the coolest restaurants and hotels and then replanning when I discovered that most of them were closed over New Year’s.

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Hail Mary Pizza

Have you ever had the experience of eating at a restaurant, one that you sort of took for granted, and as you’re chewing mid-meal you realize that this isn’t just a good restaurant, it’s a great restaurant, and the whole world should know about it only you don’t want them to because that’d make it harder to get a reservation, even though this restaurant doesn’t take reservations?

That’s what happened to me last night at Hail Mary Pizza in L.A.’s Atwater Village (the village in which I live). In the space that once housed the beloved restaurant Canele, something exciting is happening. I knew it when I tasted the tomato salad, but I also knew it when the pizzas hit the table. Actually, I knew it when I stood at the counter ordering.

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P-Town

For the past three years, we’ve been going with a group of friends to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Located on the very tip of Cape Cod, P-town (as its known) is a gay-friendly paradise: beaches, bike-riding, BenDeLaCreme: P-town has it all.

There are certain rituals that are very important to those of us who go back to P-town year after year. The first, and most important, is Frosé.

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The Mind-Blowing Quesadilla at Salazar

I was just about to tell you about this quesadilla at Salazar in Frogtown here in L.A. — I’d just posted the picture — when the room started wobbling and the pictures on the piano started rattling and Winston gave me a worried look and I realized I was experiencing my first feel-able L.A. earthquake.

Wow, that was unsettling! I do feel a little woozy: it’s hard to talk about quesadillas. But I’m going to soldier through, just for you.

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Paris Highlights

Travel is a funny thing. The more you build it up in your head, the less likely you are to do it.

Which is why, a few months ago, when our friends Harry and Cris told us that they were going to France for Christmas and New Year’s (Cris is from Bordeaux), I spontaneously suggested that we all spend New Year’s together in Paris. The idea took, especially since Craig had never been to France, and I cashed in all of our Delta miles and booked us two roundtrip tickets to Paris. In terms of great spontaneous decisions, this was one of the best I’ve ever made.

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Cyber Monday at Trois Mec

I had a very good Cyber Monday, if I do say so myself. My KitchenAid mixer has been in decline every since that time, years ago, that I was using it to knead bread dough and heard a giant BOOM in the kitchen, only to discover it had toppled on to the floor, cracking a tile in the process. Now it looks like Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi, its whole back exposed to reveal stray wires and coils (the cover won’t stay on). The other day I accidentally put my hand on one of those wires and it zapped me. The thing is ten years old and so when I saw Jason Kottke link to a KitchenAid mixer deal on Amazon yesterday, it was if the food gods were smiling down upon me. I got the six-quart, professional series in Aqua Sky for $220 less than the normal price. It arrives tomorrow.

I may have also purchased a new food processor, a fire extinguisher (you never know!), and two mid-century serving platters on Etsy that weren’t discounted for Cyber Monday, but I was on a roll, so I just went with it. And then, one of L.A.’s most celebrated restaurants, Trois Mec, posted this on its Twitter feed: “We’re celebrating cyber Monday with a deal of our own! Buy for 2 and eat for 4, or buy for 1 and eat for 2! Valid for today only! Email luis@troismec.com for more details!”

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My Favorite Restaurant in L.A. Right Now Is Botanica

There’s this notion that there’s an objective answer to the question, “Where’s the best place to eat in (insert city name) right now?”

Let me be the first to say that I don’t think it’s possible to be objective about such a thing. In fact, I’m planning a trip to Paris right now and listening to all kinds of advice. Many people are telling me about their favorite restaurants and I’m entering them into Google and though the menus look excellent, sometimes I just look at pictures of the restaurants on Google images and don’t get a great vibe. That’s enough for me to set that place aside, even if the food’s spectacular. Atmosphere matters just as much to me as the food (Craig too). That’s not true for everyone, but that’s true for us.

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A Trip To Bologna By Way of Rossoblu in Downtown L.A.

My friend Toby spent a summer in Bologna during college and over the past few weeks (months?) he’s been talking to me about going to this new Italian restaurant in downtown L.A. called Rossoblu that cooks food from the region. “Yes, we should totally go!” I said in that tone that suggests that there’s a good chance this will never happen. Mind you, I love Toby and I loved the idea of going to a new Italian restaurant in downtown L.A., but the logistics seemed a little tricky. For starters: driving downtown, that’s not fun. Plus I make a lot of pasta at home, did I really need to pay for it at a restaurant? And reading about it online, it sounded very heavy (fried bread? lots of meats and cheese?). But then it was Toby’s birthday and I said, “We should go to Rossoblu!” in a tone that suggested I really meant it. So last night, we finally went.

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